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“God can handle your doubt, anger, fear, grief, confusion, and questions. You can bring everything to him in prayer.”

~ Rick Warren

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“All vital praying makes a drain on a man’s vitality. True intercession is a sacrifice, a bleeding sacrifice.”

~ J.H. Jowett

Mr. Green was a great Sunday School teacher because he was willing to be and was willing to do what it took to make a difference in my life.


Mr. Green was a great Sunday School teacher. I was in third grade at a little Baptist church in Southern California and, frankly, and I don’t remember a single lesson he taught in class. But he was my best teacher ever!

How can that be, you ask? Because Mr. Green had qualities about him that transcended the ability to take a lesson from the curriculum and get me to understand it. Mr. Green was a great Sunday School teacher because he was willing to be and was willing to do what it took to make a difference in my life.

He exhibited 8 Qualities of a Great Sunday School Teacher that I think are present in every great teacher.

The 8 Qualities of a Great Sunday School Teacher:

1) A heart for God

This is where all ministry begins, whether you are teaching Sunday School or leading the entire church. In fact, this is where our ministry should flow from – our deep, sincere, committed heart for God.

2) A love for people

Scripture teaches that the two greatest commands are to love God and to love . . . people (Mark 12:30-31)! Our teaching ought to flow from our love for God but because of our love for people. This means we are not only committed to the lesson, but to actually understanding and building relationships with the people we are teaching.

3) A passion for God’s Word

A heart for God and a love for people set the stage for the content of our teaching. And that content needs to be solidly based on Biblical truth. As a Sunday School teacher, it’s our responsibility to dig in to God’s Word not just to teach our lesson, but to understand it fully and allow it to permeate every part of our life. As we do this, every element of our teaching becomes based on and saturated in the Word.

4) A habit of praying

Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost For His Highest, said “Prayer does not equip us for greater works, prayer is the greater work.” A great Sunday School teacher knows that it is the power of God that brings about transformation, so a deep dependence on God, exhibited through the habit of praying, is essential for a great Sunday School teacher.

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“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4.6-7).

“Christ is our life: in heaven He ever liveth to pray; His live in us an ever-praying life, if we but trust Him for it. Christ teaches us to pray not only by example, by instruction, by command, by promises, but by showing us Himself, the everlasting Intercessor, as our Life.” 

Andrew MurrayWith Christ in the School of Prayer(preface)

The Danger of “I” in Christian Prayer

This article is an excerpt from my book, The Prayer that Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution. This post is the third in an eight part series on the Lord’s Prayer. 

There is No “I” in Prayer: Combating Individualism in Our Prayers

Over the past several decades I have noticed that many Christians tend to begin their prayers by presenting their needs. Of course, in some sense, I understand why we naturally turn to petition almost immediately upon entering into prayer. We tend to begin with petitions because prayer reminds us of our deep need for God to sanctify us in our circumstances and save us from our trials. Additionally, our circumstances and trials are often the very thing that drives us to pray in the first place. Thus the tyranny of the urgent has a remarkable way of consuming our intellectual life and our thought patterns. As a result, our prayers, from beginning to end, are often marked by petition.

But the Lord’s Prayer begins in a very different place. Petitions certainly are a part (a major part, in fact) of the Lord’s Prayer, but Jesus does not begin with requests. He begins, instead, by identifying the character of the God to whom he prays while at the same time challenging our individualism in prayer. Jesus does all of this in the first two words, “Our Father.”

The word “our,” at first glance, seems like an insignificant little pronoun. But Jesus is making a tremendously powerful theological point by beginning his prayer with the word “our.” Jesus is reminding us that when we enter into a relationship with God we enter into a relationship with his people. When we are saved by Christ, we are saved into his body, the church. In fact, this emphasis on our place in the corporate identity of the church is reiterated throughout the prayer. One way to notice this emphasis is simply to read through the prayer and stress each personal pronoun:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Do you notice what is stunningly absent? There is no first-person singular pronoun in the entire prayer! Jesus did not teach us to pray, “My father who is heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give me this day my daily bread and forgive me my debts as I also have forgiven my debtors. And lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil.” The point is not to deny our own sins or our own needs, but never to leave ourselves there.

One of the besetting sins of evangelicalism is our obsession with individualism. This obsession with individualism chronically besets us as evangelicals. The first-person singular pronoun reigns in our thinking. We tend to think about nearly everything (including the truths of God’s Word) only as they relate to me. This is why when Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he emphasizes from the very outset that we are part of a corporate people called the church. God is not merely “my Father.” He is “our Father”—the Father of my brothers and sisters in the faith with whom I identify and with whom I pray.

If we are honest, even many of our prayer meetings fail to take into account Jesus’ emphasis on the corporate character of prayer. Yet we must never lose sight of the fact that even when we pray by ourselves, we must pray with an eye toward and with love for Christ’s church. We must remember the pattern of our Lord’s speech in the model prayer and recall not only the words he used, but the words he didn’t use. The first-person singular (I, me, my, mine) is completely absent from the Lord’s Prayer. Evidently, prayer should not center on you or me.

The problem of overemphasizing ourselves in our prayers reminds me of G. K. Chesterton’s famous answer to a question put forth by a major London newspaper, “What is the problem with the world?” This question was sent to many public intellectuals in Victorian England, many of whom sent back long essays delineating the complexities of everything wrong with the world. Chesterton, however, responded with a simple handwritten note that read, “I am. Sincerely yours, Chesterton.”

What is the biggest problem with our prayers? Perhaps the most fundamental answer mirrors Chesterton’s: “I am.”

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“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” –Romans 12:2

The nation cannot afford a sidelined church, taken out by worldliness and confusion. The Apostle Paul commands believers to allow ourselves no longer to be conformed by worldly patterns, but rather to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Only then we will understand the will of God, not just for our own lives, but so that we can be a prophetic voice to our nation. Sometimes the best way to pray for our nation is to pray for revival in the church!

Pray for a transformation in the church through a renewing of our minds through the Word of God.

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| by Ben Marshall

Leaders strive for productivity. It is an essential part of our DNA. This drive for productivity is the reason so many successful books have been written on it. Productivity drives us to use checklists and notebooks and calendars to keep ourselves on track and moving forward.

As leaders, productivity is (or should be) a given. We all have so much to do and so much more to do, can we afford to be unproductive?

One thing I wrestle with regarding this productivity mindset is when it shows up in my spiritual life.

Prayer is one of those spiritual habits that can feel unproductive at face value. It can feel like the passive tool in our spiritual growth or the last thing that happens if there is enough time leftover. However, prayer is actually the most effective tool for our life and leadership, and I am working on putting this into practice. This is the most effective tool to grow spiritually, to lead and to minister to others.

Here are three things prayer does for your life and leadership:

Prayer provides the foundation for your life and leadership

A life that is founded on anything other than a personal, growing relationship with God will fail. Prayer must be the foundation of leadership and ministry, from your professional to your personal life.

Prayer unites our heart and our affections with God. It is through this prayer relationship with God that He reveals His plan and purpose for our lives. Prayer provides the foundation for decisions moving forward in career and family life. A life absent of prayer will be a life absent of the power of God. Don’t miss it.

Prayer keeps your focus firm in the storm and the calm

At times life can feel overwhelming and unmanageable, both at home and at work. Prayer helps us refocus on the Lord. Prayer puts your mind in the proper place and helps you remember God is the one in control. Prayer is a reminder that God is bigger than your storm.

Prayer provides fuel for your day

Quality time spent in prayer can energize and drive your day forward.

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The Place of Prayer

by 

What is the goal of the Christian life? Godliness born of obedience to Christ. Obedience unlocks the riches of the Christian experience. Prayer is what prompts and nurtures obedience, putting the heart into the proper “frame of mind” to desire obedience.

Of course, knowledge is also important because without it, we cannot know what God requires. However, knowledge and truth will remain abstract unless we commune with God in prayer. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches, inspires, and illumines God’s Word to us. He mediates the Word of God and assists us in responding to the Father in prayer.

Prayer has a vital place in the life of the Christian. First, it is an absolute prerequisite for salvation. Some people cannot hear; yet though deaf, they can be saved. Some may not be able to see; yet though blind, they can be saved. Knowledge of the Good News—salvation through the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—will come from one source or another, but in the final analysis, a person must humbly ask God for salvation. The prayer of salvation is the one prayer of the wicked God has said he will hear.

What do those in heaven have in common? Several things. They have all been justified, having put their faith in the atonement of Christ. They are all praising God. And they have all prayed for salvation. To be without prayer is to be without God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the hope and reality of heaven.

Second, one of the surest marks of the Christian is his prayer life. One might pray and not be a Christian, but one could not possibly be a Christian and not pray. Romans 8:15 tells us that the spiritual adoption that has made us sons of God causes us to cry out in verbal expressions: “Abba! Father.” Prayer is to the Christian what breath is to life, yet no duty of the Christian is so neglected.

Prayer, at least private prayer, is difficult to do out of a false motive. One might preach out of a false motive, as do the false prophets; one might be involved in Christian activities out of false motives. Many of the externals of religion might be done from false motives, but it is highly unlikely that anyone would commune with God out of some improper motive. Matthew 7 tells us that in the “last day,” many will stand at the Judgment and tell Christ of their great and noble deeds done in his name, but his response will be that he does not know them.

So, we are invited, even commanded, to pray. Prayer is both a privilege and a duty, and any duty can become laborious. Prayer, like any means of growth for the Christian, requires work. In a sense, prayer is unnatural to us. Though we were created for fellowship and communion with God, the effects of the Fall have left most of us lazy and indifferent toward something as important as prayer. Rebirth quickens a new desire for communion with God, but sin resists the Spirit.

We can take comfort from the fact that God knows our hearts and hears our unspoken petitions more than the words that emanate from our lips. Whenever we are unable to express the deep feelings and emotions of our souls or when we are completely unclear about what it is for which we ought to be praying, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Romans 8:26-27 says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” When we don’t know how to pray or what to pray for in a given situation, the Holy Spirit assists us. There is reason to believe froFor the m the text that if we pray incorrectly, the Holy Spirit corrects the error in our prayers before he takes them before the Father, for verse 27 tells us that he “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Prayer is the secret of holiness—if holiness, indeed, has anything secretive about it. If we examine the lives of the great saints of the church, we find that they were great people of prayer. John Wesley once remarked that he didn’t think much of ministers who didn’t spend at least four hours per day in prayer. Luther said that he prayed regularly for an hour every day except when he experienced a particularly busy day. Then he prayed for two hours.

The neglect of prayer is a major cause of stagnation in the Christian life.

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“There are parts of our calling, works of the Holy Spirit, and defeats of the darkness that will come no other way than through furious, fervent, faith-filled, unceasing prayer.”

~ Beth Moore

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